Latest News in Black Art features updates and developments in the world of art and related culture

Bethani Blake. | Courtesy Amistad Center for Art & Culture


Amistad Center Announces New Curatorial Role
The Amistad Center for Art & Culture in Hartford, Conn., focuses on the African American experience. Founded in 1987, the center is housed in The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, which dates back to 1842. Last summer, Bethani Blake was appointed programs manager for the African Diaspora at the Amistad Center and the Atheneum. Now she is taking on the role of associate curator at the Amistad Center, a new position created in collaboration with the Atheneum. The appointment is effective immediately. In a statement about her promotion, Blake said: “I hope to empower a new generation of young people to reclaim space within the museum and organize exhibitions which recognize the ambiguity within the world we are currently experiencing. I am humbled to step into this next chapter with both the Atheneum and The Amistad Center.” Blake hails from Ohio and earned a BFA in painting and performing arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design (2021). (5/8) | More


April 24, 2024: The Harvard Arts Medal ceremony included Interim Harvard University President Alan Garber, Office for the Arts Director Jack Megan, professor Tracy K. Smith, and Chief Campus CUrator Brenda Tindal, who conducted a conversation with Kevin Young (50:06), recipient of the 2024 Harvard Arts Medal. | Video by Harvard Arts


2024 Harvard Arts Medal Goes to Alum Kevin Young
Kevin Young, an acclaimed poet and director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, received the 2024 Harvard Arts Medal. The annual award “recognizes a Harvard or Radcliffe alum or faculty member who has demonstrated excellence and achievement in the arts.” Young earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard College in 1992 and also holds an MFA in creative writing from Brown University (1996). He received the medal at an April 24 ceremony that coincided with the opening of Arts First, Harvard’s campus arts festival. (4/24) | More

New Members Elected to American Academy
The American Academy of Arts & Sciences in Cambridge, Mass., announced the election of 250 new members, recognized across 31 fields of expertise. The 2024 members in the Visual Arts include Chicago photographer Dawoud Bey; Linda Goode Bryant, founder of Just Above Midtown Gallery (1974-1986) and Project Eats, both in New York City; and Jeffrey C. Stewart, professor of Black studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Stewart is the author of “The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for biography and National Book Award for nonfiction, and editor of “Beauty Born of Struggle: The Art of Black Washington.” The induction ceremony for new members is planned for September. (4/24) | More

2024-25 Rome Prize Recipients
The American Academy in Rome announced the 2024-25 winners of the Rome Prize. Visual Arts recipients include artist Lex Brown of Phiadelphia, Pa., and Nona Faustine, who lives and works in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Rome Prize affords American artists and scholars the “time and space to think and work” at the Academy’s 11-acre campus in Rome. Each winner receives a stipend, workspace, and room and board for five to 10 months. (4/25) | More

In Canada, Sobey Art Award Longlist Announced
Thirty artists have been longlisted for the 2024 Sobey Art Award, Canada’s most prominent contemporary art prize. The National Gallery of Canada (NGC) in Ontario, announced the longlist, which features artists representing regions throughout the nation, including Miles Greenberg and Eve Tagny, from Quebec, and Ontario artists June Clark, Timothy Yanick Hunter, and Oluseye Ogunlesi. On June 11, the shortlist featuring one finalist from each of the six regions will be announced, then an exhibition presenting works by the shortlisted artists will be on view at NGC, from Oct. 4, 2024-March 16, 2025. The winner of the Sobey Art Award will be declared on Nov. 9 and receives $100,000. (4/30) | More


Ralph Gilles. | Courtesy Stellantis


Prominent Car Designer Speaking at Detroit Art School Commencement
The College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit, Mich., announced alum Ralph Gilles as its 2024 commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient. The ceremony was May 9. Giles is chief design officer at Stellantis, the global automaker where his portfolio includes Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, Ram, Fiat (for Latin America) and Maserati. He earned a BFA in transportation design from CCS and went on to obtain an MBA from Michigan State University. “CCS will always hold a special place in my heart as it played a pivotal role in shaping my artistic foundation and helped to launch my career path. It holds a lifetime of memories and the connections I’ve formed with fellow artists have become lifelong friendships,” Gilles said in a statement. “Being selected as this year’s commencement speaker and receiving an honorary degree is an overwhelming honor.” (5/9) | More

Author Colson Whitehead Withdraws as Commencement Speaker at UMass
Colson Whitehead canceled his commencement address at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author said he came to the decision after UMass called campus police on pro-Palestinian protestors. On May 8, police arrested approximately 130 protestors who had set up an encampment on the grounds of the university. “I was looking forward to speaking next week at UMass Amherst,” Whitehead wrote on the social media network Bluesky. “But calling the cops on peaceful protesters is a shameful act. I have to withdraw as your commencement speaker. I give all my best wishes and congratulations to the class of ’24 and pray for the safety of the Palestinian people, the return of the hostages, and an end to this terrible war.” UMass said the May 18 graduation ceremony would occur as scheduled without a speaker. (5/9) | New York Times



Painting by Lubaina Himid Covers Brooklyn Rail
The work of British painter, curator, educator, and self-described “cultural activist” Lubaina Himid illustrates one of several covers produced for the May issue of Brooklyn Rail. Inside, the publication features an interview with Himid conducted by Omar Kholeif, author and director of collections and senior curator at the Sharjah Art Foundation. (The foundation is operated by the government of the United Arab Emirates and organizes the Sharjah Biennial. In 2023, Himid participated in the Sharjah Biennial 15, which was conceived by late curator Okwui Enwezor.) The interview was published on the occasion of Himid’s current solo exhibitions at The Contemporary Austin in Texas and Greene Naftali Gallery in New York. A pioneer in the British Black Arts Movement, Himid won the Turner Prize in 2017, marking the first time a Black woman received the prominent contemporary art prize. (May 2024) | Brooklyn Rail

IMAGE: Above left, LUBAINA HIMID, Detail of “Pointless Heroism” (2023). | Brooklyn Rail, May 2024


Staffers at Glenstone Museum Seek to Unionize
Staff members at Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Md., are the latest museum workers moving to unionize. Approximately 100 hourly employees, across an array of departments, including curatorial, registration, community engagement, grounds, engineering and maintenance, and the cafe, plan to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The group represents about half of the Glenstone’s workforce. They are seeking living wages and healthcare for all staff members, including part-time employees, a safer work environment, and increased transparency. (The lowest paid members of the group reportedly earn $20.28 per hour.) Glenstone is a private contemporary art museum situated within 300 acres of natural landscapes that offers an enriching experience at the intersection of art, architecture, and nature. Founded by billionaire collectors Emily and Mitch Rales, the museum focuses on post-World War II art and offers free admission to all visitors. Glenstone’s impressive collection includes premium works by a diverse selection of about 300 artists, including about 50 Black artists. A major solo exhibition of Faith Ringgold was presented in 2021. “Iconoclasts,” the current collection exhibition, features works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Hammons, Martin Puryear, Lorna Simpson, Ming Smith, Mildred Thompson, Bill Traylor, and Jack Whitten, among others. (5/8) | Hyperallergic


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